Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene's arrival to Belltown/Stamford means a Loss of Power for nearly 48 Hours. Good bye and Good night Irene.

The Wrath and  Aftermath of Hurricane Irene
Tree limbs Strung Out Along Belltown Road in Stamford 

Hurricane Irene arrived in Stamford with a fury in the early AM hours on Sunday August 28.

Heavy rains were accompanied by 50 MPH winds.

At about 4AM, the lights started flickering and at 5:20, we lost electricity in our area!

Not only our area, but also the ridges (High Ridge and Long Ridge Roads) were also hit hard with no power. An early estimate was that over 20,000 homes were off the grid.

At about 8PM on Monday night, I drove down to Bulls Head Diner to get a WiFi signal only to find the parking lots at the Bulls Head Center, the Diner and the next door Home Goods and Radio Shack stacked full of cars.

Irene turned out to be a boon to the numerous restaurants in the Bulls Head area: the diner, two Chinese restaurants, a brick oven pizzeria, middle eastern food and Indian cuisine. It was truly a culinary night on the town for Stamfordites.

Perhaps, I would be able to get a signal at the Starbucks further up High Ridge!

Continuing my journey up High Ridge to High Ridge Shopping Center near the Merritt, I noticed the entire 2 mile strip to be without power.

To my disappointment, Starbucks had a sign on the window alerting its faithful that the store would be closed pending the return of power.

However, the Boston Market next door to Starbucks was running on backup power and had long waiting lines to place orders. Across the street, the Parkway Diner was jam-packed with cars, not a space to be had!

Jennifer (missing a few letters in its neon sign) had a bright red OPEN sign!

Before returning home, I visited an Optimum hot spot in my neighborhood - hoping to log on - only to find it too congested to access.

As I returned home, I followed Glenbrook firefighters on their way to extinguish a fire caused by a malfunctioning generator. Luckily, only the generator was fried to a crisp with no further property damage or injury to life.

Then a miracle!

At exactly 4:10 AM Tuesday morning, our area was back on the grid.

Let there be light!

Let there be internet!

We were without power for about 47 hours, considerably less than the 5-7 days predicted.

And the constant buzz of many generators has finally been silenced.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What I've Been Reading Lately: Daniel Silva's Portrait of a Spy

Time is valuable and there is so little time to do the recreational reading I so favor.

And what is that, you presume to ask? In response, I enjoy rivetting spy novels along with historical fiction.

Daniel Silva has long been my favorite fast -read writer of international thrillers. His latest, Portrait of a Spy (a 7 day loan book from my local library) grabbed my attention from the opening chapters.

As background, we learn that two separate suicide bomber attacks have this very day set off  explosions  claiming  dozens of  lives in Copenhagen and Paris. Naturally, London is under a high alert.

Gabriel Allon travels to London with his wife Chiara  to size up an art restoration job. After the consult,  the two are seeking a quiet out of the way Restaurante and they decide to walk through London's crowded  Covent Garden to get to their destination.

  Gabriel begins scanning the crowd  in the piazza with the eyes of a spy always on the look out for terrorists; he spots what he calls a  'dead man' with a "tributary of sweat leaking  from his left sideburn on a crisp autumn afternoon."  His hands are "buried in the pockets of his woolen overcoat." And in Gabriel's opinion he is wearing  a coat that is a size too big for him.

Could he be carrying 50 pounds of  high explosives, nails and ball bearings?

The would be terrorist is checking his watch which he wears on his left hand. Could the detonator switch be in his right hand?

The hour is 2:34 PM London time. The other two bombings had occurred at 11:46 and then at 12:03 this very day.

Gabriel's mind attempts to find some pattern in the alignment of times. Suddenly, he finds the connections. The Twin Towers were struck successively at 46 minutes past the hours and then 17 minutes later at 3 minutes past the hour. The third plane was flown into the Pentagon at 9:37 AM, which is 2:37 PM London time.

Gabriel decides to act and just as he is about to execute the madman with his Beretta "two powerful hands pulled the gun downward and the weight of two men drove him toward the pavement."

Tragedy ensues.

The rest of the novel (which I will allow my reader to fathom) hurls incessantly to Gabriel's confrontation of the mastermind behind these crimes.

The final chapters take us to the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai and then the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia a vast expanse of desert with massive dunes and temperatures hitting 140 farenheit.

It's a great quick read.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Belltown Welcomes It's Newest Business: M & J Kid's Consignment Store with Peruvian Arts and Crafts

Good Morning, Fairfield County moms and pops.

Be sure to visit Belltown/Stamford's newest shop. Opened by Magdalena Calderon and her husband Cesar, this neat petite store both packs it in and out. On rainless days, they have a large display of tricycles, baby strollers and play houses on the street side and all kinds of toys in their rear "Yard Sale."

Handcrafted Peruvian arts and crafts are brought back from South America on a regular basis as Magdalena's sister exports new and unusual items from their native country.

On a recent visit, I purchased an artistically embroidered ladies handbag with lilac floral designs. There are many varieties to choose from.

What is more, the prices are most reasonable.

They are located at 26 Belltown Rd., next door to Parkside Deli and Catering and Belltown Variety.

They are open 7 days a week from 10AM to 7PM.

The phone number is 203-921-2609 and email is: mjkids@live.com.


AIG sues Bank of America for $10 Billion Over Sale of Toxic Mortgages. The Irony of this All!

With the amazing revelation of a $10 Billion lawsuit of plaintiff AIG against defendant BOA comes that realization that there may yet ensue  exposure of some malfeasants in the scandal that won't go away.

Second there may be some accountability resulting in sensible regulation in a crisis-- where in the the last 5 years there has been none.

Why have the regulators been asleep at the wheel?

Does anybody remember Senator Carl Levin's remarks to Goldman Sachs executives barely 17 months ago in April 2010?:

"...600 million dollars of Timberwolf securities is what you sold. Before you sold them this is what your sales team were telling to each other. Look what your sales team were saying about Timberwolf : 'Boy that Timberwolf was one sh---y deal..' "

Not a single individual, mortgage firm, or corporate banking entity has been brought to trial, convicted and/or serving jail time in the sale of bundled mortgages under the pretense that they were investment grade securities given a high stamp of approval by the most respected rating agency S&P.

The irony of this all is that the suing party, a corporate entity,  was bailed out by the Federal taxpayer to the tune of over $85 Billion just 36 months ago. 

This is one bailed out corporate entity suing another corporate entity over issues that should have been dealt with by the US DOJ.

Why have the regulators been asleep at the wheel?

The irony of this all....won't go away!

Lease Car Registration Renewal at Connecticut DMV: Second Time Around

The first time around I called DMV to inform them that I have a lease car whose lease ends next summer. Therefore, I explained to the friendly state employee, why should I pay for two years when I would be turning the car in less than 12 months.

She put me on hold and when she returned asked me if I were a senior.

When I replied in the affirmative, she said send back the form with a check for  1/2 of the $85 fee.

I immediately sent back the fee and form with a notation 'senior' and thought the matter was finished.

10 days later, I received a letter from my lease company with a form from  CT DMV  saying that my registration is not complete. You still owe us $42.

Of course, I am flabbergasted. What's going on here?

Second time around.

So, I call up CT DMV and after a 10 minute wait to speak with a rep. I  inform  Kevin what has transpired. He puts me on hold and  when he returns explains to me that I must submit the balance of $42.

The senior 'exception' applies only to those who own their cars, he explains  Lease car registrants must pay the two year amount and when the plates are turned into DMV, must apply for a refund.

After the lease terminates, you might decide to buy the car says Kevin.

Funny thing, I have had two prior lease cars--each of the other two for a 39 month lease, have turned the plates in and have never received a refund.

The highlight of my second time around is Kevin telling  me you don't come across over the phone  as if you are  a senior- you sound much much younger. Most seniors I deal with speak much slower.

Thanks for the compliment.

 But get your act together CT DMV!  Your rules don't make sense1

Friday, August 5, 2011

Newfield Avenue's Fixture: A Horse with No Name; Close-up on Stamford

The Anonymous (no name) along Newfield Avenue
(his left foreleg has been strapped up) 

The White Horse first caught my attention as I did my shopping at the Grade A market at Newfield Greens Shopping Center.

Every morning, I would espy the horse with western saddle on the left side of the Sunoco gas station,

And I would dream about mounting him--as all things western are a passion of mine. I  imagined that I would sit astride the saddle in my western regalia, boots, buckskin, Stetson and all; then I'd be photographed for a picture to be used on my Facebook homepage.

My fantasy was not meant to be.

Today, I spoke with Ron, whose father had established the station and acquired the horse with no name. I was crestfallen as I heard  that the ceramic horse has a 'broken' leg.

 However, Ron was kind enough to photocopy a Stamford Advocate article published over 20 years ago detailing the history of the horse with no name.

The horse was acquired about 35 years ago by George, Sr. as he was heading north on route 301 in South Carolina and stopped at an " establishment that was selling out his goodies, ornamentals and stuff. I was just going to look."

He was offered the horse at a good price and so purchased it; instead of renting a trailer, George, Sr. had the horse hoisted into his motor home and lugged 'old no name' back to Stamford. Subsequently, "He bought a saddle during one of his second-hand forays."

For about 5 years the horse decorated Sr.'s front lawn. But then the two sons, who also owned the gas station, wanted it to adorn their work property and so old 'no name' has been a fixture along Newfield Avenue ever since.

Every morning Ron wheels out 'no name' where he proudly serves as 'neighing' mascot to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Favorite Sculpture at Stamford's Art in Public Places 2011 Show: Personalities by Judith Peck

In my June 1, 2011 post, I presented a slide show of a representative sampling of the sculptures to be featured in Stamford's Art in Public Places Summer 2011 show. (Last summer, I posted a slide show of the Reigning Cats and Dogs Outdoor sculpture show as it was being readied for exhibition at the Landmark building.)

So, as you already know, Stamford has no dearth of outdoor art and part of my passion is to try to catch up with just a few with my trusty digital camera.

This year is no different. Just sample the 'difference': here's one for a spring day. 

As it turns out, this year my favorite piece, hands down,  is Personalities by Judith Peck, sponsored by SAC Capital Advisors, LP. Here is a slide show.

What makes this piece so captivating is the free form movement of the four white silhouetted figures.

You can almost feel and experience their movements as their young supple bodies sway freely on the swings and lateral ladders.

Each figure is in a different mobile position: one is crouching on a moving swing; another is doing a somersault; a third appears to be running on a track as his body is tilted to the right; finally, the fourth is leaning to his left on a plane above all the others.

Though the artist captures and isolates each figure , there is a unity of motion and a harmony of vibrant spirit common to all four.

The show is a must visit for all Stamford citizens.  The sculptures are primarily clustered along Bedford, Summer, Atlantic and Broad Streets downtown.

Personalities (number 17 on the map, click below)  is aptly located in Latham Park opposite the Avon Theater.

Now that you know which piece is my favorite, I want to know which is your favorite!

Here is a map to this year's Wit and Whimsy Outdoor show.